What a great time of year! Hockey Day Minnesota is just a day away. The weather is cold. And that means it's time for outdoor hockey.
But if you have a backyard rink, it's always time for outdoor hockey. For the latest Is It In Your Blood? Contest, we wanted to see what the State of Hockey had to offer when it came to showing off their home rinks.
This month's contest was brought to you by The Home Depot, who generously offered up a $250 Gift Card to the winner, as well as two tickets to the Wild's home game against the Edmonton Oilers on February 22.
But let's face it. Even if you aren't chosen as the winner of the grand prize, you have a rink in your backyard, so you can never be too upset. And if you are still unhappy with the results, you can once again lay the blame on Is It In Your Blood? judge, Brad Bombardir.
The six-time Wild captain knows what it takes to bleed hockey in Minnesota, so once again, he picked the winner. But first, let's look at some of the other finalists:
Steve Iacono of East Bethel submits the picture of hockey serenity. Winter nights in the woods of Minnesota are dark, unless you're playing hockey under 1,500 watts of light on a perfectly constructed rink. If you're wondering where the nightlife is in East Bethel, it's in Steve Iacono's backyard.
Ray Krantz of Ramsey sends us another nighttime scene. In addition to the great lighting that accentuates the gorgeous trees in the background, you've got to love the details: the Minnesota and American flags at center ice, the advertisements on the boards and the stick bucket at the rink's entrance.
Mike Raisanen of Dassel might not have regulation boards surrounding his entire rink, but he does have the perfect setting. When you look at this picture, can you imagine this rink being anywhere but in the state of Minnesota? Sometimes, simplicity is the best policy when building a backyard rink.
Of course, paying attention to every detail doesn't hurt either, as Lance and Shannon Olson of Oak Grove prove here. Their grandpa built this rink complete with logos of the Wild, Gophers, North Stars and the St. Francis Saints. How about Gramps even putting down the blue and red lines. This says pro rink, as much as it says backyard rink.
Bryan Hammitt of Bemidji just wanted a place for his three-year-old son to burn off some energy. Five years later, his rink has evolved into a masterpiece, complete with a warming shack, and yes, a homemade Zamboni. It's tucked back in the woods that were cleared by Hammitt, and yes, the Wild banner in the corner is also a welcome touch in a Wild.com contest.
Not everybody in Minnesota has a huge backyard or wooded area to put a huge rink. It's about working with what you've got, which is what Jerry Woehler of Apple Valley showed in his rink. It's small, and simple, but it doesn't exactly what a backyard rink should. It also features a luge run for the litte one in the family, and the low boards are there to let the kids dive into the snow.
Dave Overgaard of Lindstrom has a lake in his backyard, but what fun is it to go out on an ice sheet you don't put any work into? Overgaard shows you don't always need boards on your rink. In Minnesota, we've got plenty of snow that can serve as barriers. We love the playground next to the rink, which must serve as the press box for the biggest of neighborhood games.
Steve Lindell's rink in Isanti is so perfect, it's used by the Cambridge Isanti C-Mite Black team for practices every Monday and Thursday night. This was built with the help from parents and grandparents of the players on the team, who obviously constructed it perfectly. But even better than the construction is that view.
Kurt Potach of Austin pumps in music to this beauty, which is also used as a roller hockey rink in the steamy Austin, Minnesota summers. Bonus points go to Kurt for letting his dog get in on the backyard hockey action. Unfortunately, it just wasn't enough to top the winner in Bombardir's opinion, which is...
Jason Sprague of Vadnais Heights, MN. Sure, Sprague pandered to the Wild crowd by putting up Wild jerseys, flags and logos, but there's so much more than that. There's seating for the fans, a working scoreboard courtesy of Irondale High School with a working horn, center ice lines and goal lines, a skating path to the rink, and yes, even a Minnesota Wild Year Ten logo at center ice. In the words of Bombardir when making his final decision, "How can you top that?"